Satire and Political Purpose in the Novels of Jose Rizal

C.W. Watson


More than a century ago, future national hero, Jose Rizal, attempted to put the Spanish colonial presence in a bad light. While in Europe, Rizal wrote two future classics, the Noli Me Tangere and the El Filibusterismo, through which Rizal made known his views towards colonial and religious oppression, his hopes for his country and his place in the then revolution in the works. While achieving modest success in Europe, the Noli, a triumph in satire, had limited impact in the Philippines when it was published in 1884, much to Rizalís dismay. The Noli merely earned him a token filibustero status and a place in the watch list upon his return but was inconsequential in terms of raising political consciousness. No reform forthcoming, Rizal retreated to Europe and wrote the sequal. Equally satirical and politically sharp, the Fili took on the same laughably absurd character and situations but was of darker humor and more violently tragic resolutions, reflecting Rizalís final recognition of the futility of his role as a poet.

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